Space Ship

SpaceShipTwo, the next-generation successor to the privately funded SpaceShipOne, promises to carry two pilots and six passenger-tourists to altitudes of some 75 miles, finally surpassing the altitudes flown by the X-15 almost 50 years ago. Three times larger than SS1, the SS2 spaceplane will be air-launched at 60,000 ft by the White Knight 2 mothership, currently under construction. White Knight 2, also three times larger than the first White Knight, has been christened Eve. Each flight will take about h and cost passengers around $200,000. When the powered portion of the flight ends, passengers will be able to float about the cabin for a few minutes. They may be tethered to their form-fitting seats, however, so that the pilot can "reel" them back in before reentering the atmosphere. Testing of SS2 will take place at the Mojave Spaceport in southern California, with commercial flights departing and arriving at Spaceport America, New Mexico, starting in 2009 or 2010.

The next phase, SpaceShipThree, is expected to be capable of orbital operations, and may dock at either the ISS or a private space station. The launch architecture for SS3 has not yet been unveiled.

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